FAIRFIELD — In business, as in property, what matters, as the cliché goes, are three things: “location, location, location.”
While Moorhead Automotive Center has been in business for 15 years, the shop suffered from the poor visibility of its less-than-optimal former location. Tucked away behind Big 5 Sporting Goods, several hundred feet from North Texas Street, ample signage was needed just to prove the shop was more than a rumor.
Owner Jeff Moorhead, 34, jumped at an opportunity to increase his business’ visibility by moving to what longtime locals refer to as “the old Kinney shoe store” on the North Texas Street curve near Armijo High School.
“I saw the potential of the building, but for years the owners refused to sell it,” Moorhead said. “But one day I drove by and saw a ‘For Lease’ sign and called and asked them, again, if they were willing to sell and they said yes.”
Once the deal was done, the work of remodeling began and Moorhead did most of it – electrical, plumbing, flooring. The crowning touch was the erection of a 40-foot flagpole that became home to an 8-foot by 12-foot American flag.
“I knew from the moment I bought this place that I wanted a flagpole here,” Moorhead said. “I am one of those all-American kind of guys and when I looked around, you could not see a flag anywhere.”
While his heart is all-American, Moorhead’s automobile repair shop services Nissans, BMWs and Volvos right alongside Chevrolets and Fords.
“I like to say that we don’t do paint work nor tires, but we do everything else,” Moorhead said. “We service domestic, Asian and are doing more and more European vehicles, as well. We are the place to take your car and get it fixed when no one else can.”
Hendrick Crowell, a longtime Moorhead Automotive customer, can attest to the owner’s claims. Crowell, with his wife Pamela, own the Crowell & Crowell law firm located a few blocks down from the shop.
“They don’t play ‘hide the ball’ when you come in; they tell you how much it costs up front, where a lot of places wait until you are in there and then the price starts climbing,” Crowell said. “I appreciate their honesty. I have been to most of the places in this area, including the dealerships, and Moorhead goes the extra mile – they treat your car like it was their car.”
For good measure, Crowell attended the grand opening in July at the new location and reported the barbecue the company hosted was “darn good.”
Jeff Moorhead got his love of tinkering on cars from his father, Thomas, who now helps handle the front desk at the shop.
“My dad worked on neighbors’ vehicles and he would race cars and so I got into hot rods because of him,” Moorhead said. “I started charging one of our neighbors to work on his car when I was 13 years old and he still comes in here.”
Moorhead’s passion was, and still is, building hot rods. When he graduated from high school, he went to the Sequoia Institute (now Wyotech) and coupled his hands-on experience with training and became a certified technician. After graduating, he immediately opened The Smog Shop, which evolved into Moorhead Automotive Center.
“I had worked at a machine shop, California Street Machine, and I learned a lot from those people, so I combined the knowledge of machining and building engines with repairing them. When I hear an engine that has a problem, it’s almost like a CSI deal,” Moorhead said.
The secret to Moorhead Automotive Center’s continued success is combining state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment with technical know-how.
“Our customers are really good people and I enjoy making them happy by discovering their vehicle’s problem and making it right for them,” Moorhead said.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.